Three alarming studies conducted in the past two years show undeniable evidence that cell phone usage is linked to increased chances of developing brain cancer. Scientists in the Netherlands discovered that exposing certain deciduous trees to radio-frequency radiation (such as that emitted by cell phones and wireless internet) resulted in “various forms of tissue death” including bark fissures and leaf discoloration.
Oncology and neurology experts are now warning that using a cell phone for ten years or more raises your risk for brain tumors 10-30%, and President Obama’s Cancer Panel report stated in 2010 that increasing cell phone use is of “great concern,” and that more safety studies are “urgently needed.” Dr. Devra Davis, a senior advisor in the US Department of Health and Human Services, recently authored a book entitled Disconnect, which urges us to be more cautious about cell phone use. Some are predicting the book will do for cell phone use what Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring did for DDT. Dr. Davis also points to studies that show that sperm exposed to cell phone radiation dies four times faster: a good reason for men to avoid keeping their phones in their front pockets.
With five billion cell phones in use worldwide and telecom companies reluctant to admit their products are causing us any danger, it’s up to us as individuals to reduce our risk. Here are steps you can take to protect yourself from radio-frequency radiation:
- Always use a hands-free headset or the speakerphone when talking on your cell phone.
- Keep the phone off of your body, meaning not in your pocket, and not in a holster on your belt.
- Text when you can, instead of talking, because holding the phone away from your head exposes you to less radiation.
- Turn your phone off or put it in “airplane mode” when not in use because when the phone is searching for or receiving a signal, it’s emitting radiation.
- At home, use phones with cords rather than cordless phones: cordless phones and their charging stations also emit radiation.
- Use a low-radiation cell phone. Go to the FCC's website to find out the specific absorbency rate (SAR) of your phone, or visit the Environmental Working Group’s database.
- Keep your wireless internet modem in a part of your house that has little traffic. The bedroom is not a good place for the wireless modem.
- Don’t let children play with cell phones. If they are using them to play a game, make sure the phone is set to “airplane mode.”
- Older children who have cell phones should be educated on the ways they can reduce radiation exposure.
Davis, Devra. Disconnect. New York: Dutton, 2010.
Khurana, Vini G., Charles Teo, Michael Kundi, Lennart Hardell, and Michael Carlberg. “Cell Phones and Brain Tumors: A Review Including the Long-Term Epidemiologic Data.” Surgical Neurology, March 31, 2009
Myung, Seung-Kwon, Woong Ju, Diana D. McDonnell, Yeon Ji Lee, Gene Kazinets, Chih-Tao Cheng, and Joel M. Moskowitz. “Mobile Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Clinical Oncology, November 20, 2009
Rysavy, Tracy Fernandez. “Danger Calling?” Green American, January / February 2011
Shoemaker, Rene. “Wifi Makes Trees Sick, Study Says.” PC World, November 19, 2010